Narratives of Inclusion

Can cities help us live together?

An event of the Urban Age Global Debates series hosted by Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and LSE Cities

This event was one of the series of five public Global Debates celebrating ten years of the Urban Age programme. The debates discussed five core themes that have been the focus of research and debate at the Urban Age since 2005.  The event series was organised by LSE Cities and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society, in association with Guardian Cities.

Cities like New York, Rio de Janeiro and Mumbai are booming. Things seem to be going well for these cities. But who exactly is it going well for? Eminent urban sociologist Richard Sennett and author Suketu Mehta raised questions of identity, grounding and belonging in the contemporary city. By exploring the urban experiences and narratives of migrant communities and their inextricably linked connections with both their new and their home environment, this debate considered one of the greatest challenges for any city builder today: how do we form a community within these enormous, historically unprecedented, and continuously mobile agglomerations of people? Can we create cities and neighbourhoods which perhaps are not fully inclusive but at least are not exclusive to particular groups?   How can we live better together in the 21st century city, these 10…20…60 million people living side-by-side, and on top of each other?

Event materials



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    Suketu Mehta

    Suketu Mehta is the author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. He has won the Whiting Writers’ Award, the O. Henry Prize, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for his fiction. Mehta’s work has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and National Geographic. Mehta is an Associate Professor of Journalism at New York University.

    Richard Sennett

    Richard Sennett is Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. His research interests include the relationship between urban design and urban society, urban family patterns, the urban welfare system, the history of cities and the changing nature of work. His books include The Craftsman (2008), The Culture of the New Capitalism (Yale, 2006), Respect: The Formation of Character in an Age of Inequality (Penguin, 2003), The Corrosion of Character (1998), Flesh and Stone (1994) and The Fall of Public Man (1977). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Society of the Arts and the Academia Europea. He is past President of the American Council on Work and the former Director of the New York Institute for the Humanities. Recent honours and awards include The Schocken Prize, 2011; Honorary Doctorate from Cambridge University, 2010; The Spinoza Prize, 2010; The Tessenow Prize, 2009; The Gerda Henkel Prize, 2008; The European Craft Prize, 2008; and The Hegel Prize, 2006.

    Tessa Jowell

    Dame Tessa Jowell is a former MP and UK Government Secretary of State. She was Minister for the Olympics from 2005–2010 and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport from 2001–2007. In 2014 she was appointed Professor of Practice, working with LSE Cities and the Department of Government on a range of academic and outreach initiatives. She stood down from UK Parliament in 2015, having served as an MP for the London constituency of Dulwich and West Norwood since 1992.